Thanks to the technological advancements of the past decade driving innovation in the green energy sector, renewables are now the second most common energy source in the United States.
According to the 2020 US Energy Information Administration report, “renewable energies have overtaken both nuclear (790 billion kilowatt-hours) and coal (774 billion kilowatt-hours) for the first time on record. This result in 2020 was mainly due to a significantly lower use of coal in power generation in the United States and a steadily increased use of wind and solar. “
From 2019 to 2020, the production of electricity from coal decreased by 20%, while in correlation, renewables increased by 9%. Electricity produced by coal peaked at just over 2,000 billion kilowatt-hours in 2007 and has fallen by more than half since then. Natural gas overtook coal in 2016 and is currently the largest source of energy in the United States, according to Energy Information Administration data dating back to 1949.
Along with the production of clean electricity, the United States is increasingly dependent on renewable energies such as wood and biomass waste from landfills and biofuels, including fuel ethanol and biodiesel, to make goods. and produce heat. Last year, the Energy Information Administration reported that wood waste and energy accounted for 22 percent of America’s total renewable energy use. Biofuels accounted for 17% of renewable energy consumption.
Initiatives launched by local government administrators play a key role in this trend.
VSCities and counties are investing heavily in green energy and moving away from fossil fuels. Culver City, Calif., For example, recently voted to phase out oil drilling in the Inglewood oil field by 2026. And Los Angeles is currently considering limiting oil drilling through zoning regulations, according to one. Consumer Watchdog press release.
While California, in particular, is taking notable steps to move away from fossil fuels, similar steps are being taken by cities and counties across America.
“Between 2015 and the first quarter of 2020, American cities signed 335 renewable energy agreements totaling 8.28 gigawatts, roughly the same power generation capacity as Alaska, Hawaii, Rhode Island and Vermont gathered, ”according to a World Research Institute report on the United States. cities and energy consumption. “This electricity, purchased through on-site projects, community solar projects, green tariffs and off-site power purchase agreements (excluding purchases of unbundled renewable energy certificates), is equivalent to to nearly 1% of the current installed electricity production capacity. in the USA.”
Notably, California and Texas accounted for 84% of the total renewable energy purchased between 2015 and 2020, the report notes. And 90% of those clean energy investments have been made through off-site power purchase agreements that “allow local governments to purchase power from large-scale projects. which means these deals can be very large and cost effective compared to other sourcing options. This makes it a popular choice for cities, especially in deregulated electricity markets that allow retail electricity choices, ”the report says.
From a practical standpoint, this rapid transition to cleaner energy is driven by the falling cost of renewable energy technologies and the economic opportunities presented by the switch to clean energy. The average price of photovoltaic solar panels has fallen nearly 70% since 2014, according to the Office of Energy Efficiency and Renewable Energy. Solar jobs have also increased 167 percent over the past decade.
But while investing in renewables as a source of power generation is increasingly becoming the norm, there is still a long way to go. Solar, in particular, has not even reached its full potential.
“The abundance and potential of solar power across the United States is staggering: PV panels covering just 22,000 square miles of the country’s total land area, or about the size of Lake Michigan, could provide enough energy. electricity to power the whole of the United States, ”read a recent memo from the Office of Solar Energy Technologies.